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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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We need to defund the police

Opinion columnist Zach Freeman discusses the problems with the American police system and offers a solution. 
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Opinion columnist Zach Freeman discusses the problems with the American police system and offers a solution. 

When it comes to cops and the accused, the relationship is one of predator and prey. There are many factors at play, but the most significant comes down to power. As long as we have a class of people who are immune to the laws they enforce and hold a strict monopoly on legal violence, there will be abuse. 
Many that die to police violence are victims of systemic racism, which is tied into the foundations of American policing. Corruption and structural abuse cannot be convinced away. The only solution is to stop it in its tracks, which means defunding and eventually abolishing the police as we know it. 

Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Justine Damond, George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo — these are just a few names out of thousands killed by police. Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict was not a victory — it was the bare minimum. 

What does it say about our standards when a guilty verdict for a murder caught on video is worth a martyr? George Floyd didn’t “sacrifice his life for justice.” He had no say in the matter.

America’s police started as runaway slave patrols and publically funded mercenaries for political machines. Today, our law enforcement’s budget would rank it as the world’s third largest military, and the force acts like it. Police are not obligated to protect you, but they are protected from you and will use their power to terrorize your neighborhood. Cops and the Klan often go hand-in-hand, which isn’t anything new. For over 100 years, there have been cop-centric KKK chapters all over the country. In the 1980s, the police department of Jefferson County, Kentucky knew of and tolerated a subgroup of 40 Klan members, half of whom were within their ranks. 

Additionally, police use escalating violence as both a cause and a justification for more violence. In many states, officers have quotas to fill and will plant evidence to do it. 

With the conclusion of the Chauvin trial, many politicians have been rallying around police reform. If President Joe Biden was just wanting to make up for his 1994 Crime Bill, he’s got a helluva list of issues to choose from.

Most of Biden’s plans involve throwing more money at the issue until it goes away, but that has never worked and is a cause of our overinflated police budget today. Major Texas cities tend to spend over one-third of their general fund on policing. Police budget money could more effectively prevent crime by reducing poverty, creating social programs, funding education and just about anything other than buying more riot gear and military-grade weapons. 

For every weekly, controversial police shooting, millions flock to defend the cops at all costs. As a result, slogans like “Blue Lives Matter” have spawned as if some people are assigned cop at birth. Apologists act as though any crime committed by law enforcement is not a crime by virtue of their occupation. Despite being upholders of the law, police are not often held to its standards. One excuse we always hear is, “I was afraid.” Well, we’re afraid too, mostly of you. When a non-cop utters that same phrase, the answer is apparently, “Yeah, you should be.”

Psychoticshoot-to-kill training and the fact that officers can be rejected from the force if they’re too intelligent creates a recipe for disaster. Ninety-five percent of police calls are for non-violent situations, yet they seem ready to kill at the drop of a hat. Case after case has shown us that many of America’s police are too unstable to safely perform their duties without endangering the rest of us. 

There aren’t just “a few bad apples.” The system is rotten to the core. Half-hearted reforms, like the ones that did nothing to prevent George Floyd’s death, solve nothing. You cannot treat the sickness within American policing when American policing is the sickness itself. Instead of investing another $300 million into America’s police, as Biden suggests, we need to defund our domestic pseudo-military. If just a fraction of law enforcement’s $100 billion budget went into revitalizing communities, we would be one step closer to a world where we don’t need the police. It may sound radical to some, but an unaccountable arm of the government is abusing its power and killing Americans. Radical problems need radical solutions.  

Zachary Freeman is an anthropology junior and columnist for The Battalion.

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